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Homesteading Today – September 29, 2016

Homesteading Today – September 29, 2016

Homesteading Today – September 29

There are a million things to do in this house – scrub the toilet, lug ripped out wallboard from the bedroom to trash bins outside, vacuum and wash floors, back screws out of 2 x 4’s – and little of it will get done. I’ll deal with the screws and wallboard, the rest will wait. It’s too nice outside to be indoors. I thought I’d bring you with me through homesteading today.

The Poultry Shuffle

The perfect music for The Poultry Shuffle was already playing when I went out this morning. A young white throated sparrow that hasn’t migrated yet tested his not-quite-perfect ability to sing. They’re one of the first birds that make my head snap in their direction in the spring and it’s nice to hear them before they leave in the fall.

The meat birds, 25 Cornish Rock Cross, need more room than their 4′ x 8′ tractor allows them. I took the smaller mesh electro-fence from the turkeys, ducks and Silkie chickens and shuffled it over to the meat birds’ area. I won’t have to move them once or twice a day now. The 160 foot long roll of fencing gives them plenty of room to eat grass, weed seeds and insects for a few days. They haven’t yet discovered the freshly tilled soil in the garden but when they do the soil will fly as they learn how easy it is to dust bathe there rather than on grass.

Silkies and Runner ducks slip through the large mess of the second fence so I have to keep an eye on them. Ava and Zoey spend most of the day outside to help deter predators. There are three raccoons hanging around but not until it starts to get dark.

(Update since I started writing: A Cooper’s hawk killed one of the meat birds while Ava was herding a wayward duck back to the pen. Bastard.)
Cornish cross, meat chicken, hawk attack

Autumn Decorating

Not one bit of autumn decorating has been done this fall. I cut the cornstalks, bundled them, and tied them to posts on the porch. Frost is weeks late this year, we haven’t had one yet. The hydrangea are a gorgeous mauve. I hope it doesn’t fade as they dry. Homesteading today is a mix of death and beauty, typical for this lifestyle.

hydrangea, homesteading today

warty gourds, homesteading today

I cut the Warty gourds, Wee Be Little pumpkins and Butternut winter squash, and cleaned up the vines. The last of the tomatoes minus a Juliet plant that’s still doing well added up to a half bushel, and those vines were cleaned up. They’re dying on the garden, waiting to be rototilled into the soil. The bushel of gourds were grown in a 30″ circle in the high tunnel. Easy peasy and worth doing again next year. The winter squash didn’t fare as well but I’ll give it another try in a tunnel next year with a few changes.

The still unidentified hot peppers and Bell peppers haven’t been pulled yet. Maybe Friday, or maybe I’ll put a low tunnel over them for a while. I want more peppers but I’m over gardening for the year. I’m ready to settle in to write, missing writing terribly, and want to be done with just about everything.

Where the Wild Things Are

The beavers are still around out back. The water is low but they’re checking the muddy dam and patting it down on a regular basis. I’m learning to love the land we own. It’s a long process that I’ll talk about later.
beaver lodge, homesteading today
beaver tracks, homesteading todayDon’t forget the young bull moose that’s pics I shared yesterday.

It feels like we’ll have frost overnight so I cut the lemon balm, sage, two varieties of basil, and oregano, and put them in the dehydrator. There’s mint still to cut but it’s frost hardy, fortunate since the dehydrator is full. Sage, thyme, basil and oregano are still growing in the high tunnel, at least until we take the poly off and cold gets to them.

To Do Lists

My list for the day was unrealistically long even if I hadn’t been dealing with the hawk. I’ll work on it again tomorrow. Such is the life. Homesteading today carries into tomorrow, into the next day, and continues on because the to list changes but never ends. I wouldn’t trade it for the lifestyle we left behind in 1989.

Poults – Young Turkeys are Low Maintenance

Poults – Young Turkeys are Low Maintenance

Poults  – Raising Turkeys

After a somewhat annoying cat ‘n mouse game with the feed store on Thursday and Friday, we brought home eight broad breasted bronze poults. One died on Sunday. It was a failure to thrive situation; didn’t eat or drink much at all and peeped constantly from the start. TIP: Ask to see each bird you buy before its put into the carrying box. If it’s smaller than the rest, refuse the bird.

Ava’s Obsession

Poults, Ava’s current obsession. She was thrilled when she heard the peeping last night. I don’t know how many times I told her to get her head out of the box. She either wants them on the floor so she can take care of them or all together in the box. Having them scattered drivers her nuts. Together. All of them. Now. She nudges them around with her nose and picks up the slow learners to move them to their “right” place. “Ava, leave them alone.” “Ava, stop pushing the box,” (she’ll push it to me so I can let her little prisoners poults out). “Ava, put it down.” She loves baby anythings, especially if they peep.

Raising turkeys from late June until the Sunday before Thanksgiving is a job that can be simple.Click To Tweet

How I Raise Poults

I don’t like to raise poults, chicks, ducklings or anything else. I believe in letting mothers do their job but in some cases, like these poults, there isn’t a mother. I have the poults in a pen inside a chicken tractor. I moved Sweetie and the Sweetsketeers into the tractor this morning, and then parked the poults right beside the pen. I want Sweetie to hear the peeping and yearn to adopt them. Or at least accept them. I’m not that fussy and it doesn’t have to be love. Just please, Sweetie, raise them so I don’t have to.

Ava “helped.” She tipped the box over to let them out but she tipped it in the wrong direction. Then she pointed to the cage with her nose, then pointed at the poults, them the cage, then the poults. “You little baby turkeys, go into that cage.” If she could talk that’s exactly what she’d say. I’d like to tell you that I patiently waited for the poults to make their way onto the grass, one by one, letting them take their time and get comfortable in their first experience on the ground. I wasn’t. After snapping two photos I tipped them out and unceremoniously closed the door.

Sweetie couldn’t care less about the peeping. Her chicks are 12 days old and they’re bonded. The poults are outsiders. Outsiders…right…they were outside the tractor. I moved their cage into the tractor so they’re at least closer, and I hope she’ll warm up to them.

Keeping Poults Warm

The poults were three days old when we picked them up so the only feathers they have are on their wing tips. They can’t keep themselves warm. I don’t like heat lamps in a box of young birds, a barn or a hen house. They cause fires, animals suffer and barns are lost. I put a throw rug or towel on the floor, a heat mat used to start seedlings on top of that, then the cardboard box on the heat mat. When they go outside they’re out in the sun after the grass dries.

They have a dish of food and a waterer. That’s all they need. Food, water, warmth. Keep this simple. I have them for the next 21-22 weeks and don’t have time to make them complicated or time consuming.

What Do Poults Eat?

When the poults are in for the night they get a little bit of commercial food. It’s a high protein crumble that supports their fast growth. Outside, they eat grass and other plants, weed seeds and insects.

poults, English shepherd
Here little baby turkeys, I will let you out of the box!
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, chocolate lab, turkey poult, poults
Oh this can’t be good… Mom said, “Zoey, don’t touch” but I want to.

poults, grassfed, how to raise turkeys

Ava and I realized putting the cage in the tractor was a better idea. “Ava, get out.” She came out, turned a circle and went back in because this is her current obsession.

poults, chicken tractor, Silkie chicken, silkie chicks
I will love them and hug them and drool on them…

Tonight the poults will be in the house on a heating pad and Sweetie and the Sweetsketeers will be locked in the carrier with a bed of straw, and closed inside the tractor or hen house to keep them safe. I’m always relieved when the chicks can join the flock inside the hen house. So that’s how I raise poults on their first day on the homestead.